I've seen Il Divo twice now. I still don't get it. I liked it—it's a really cool movie, with tons of violence, intrigue, and splashy camera moves. But the story is nearly impossible to follow. Il Divo is a biopic of Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, and it begins with paragraphs of expository text in Italian; subtitles flash across the screen, but anyone not fluent in Italian is instantly at a disadvantage. The story spirals out from there, its countless characters introduced by blood-red captions, weaving through the plot and either getting killed or receding into the background.

Except for one: Andreotti (Toni Servillo) is a hunchbacked, expressionless ghoul, but Servillo plays him for laughs, a brutally intelligent—and intelligently brutal—man who may or may not have allied with the mafia to eliminate political opponents. Still, even those with an intimate knowledge of Italian politics—its countless parties, shifting alignments of church and state, and massively widespread corruption—will likely get lost, which is a pity because the film has the scope and moral depth of a Coppola epic, with the kinetic energy of a good Guy Ritchie thriller. Do a shit-ton of homework before trying to get through this—or don't, and just enjoy the ride without expecting to catch every last plot point.